Robert H. Herrmann, chemical engineer, dies

Businessman and World War II veteran

  • Robert H. Herrmann
Robert H. Herrmann
May 27, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Robert H. Herrmann, a retired chemical engineer and businessman, died May 23 from heart disease at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville.

The former Homeland and Cross Keys resident was 91.

The son of a chemical dye company executive and a homemaker, Mr. Herrmann was born and raised in Garden City, N.Y.

After graduating from Garden City High School in 1937, he earned bachelor's degrees in chemistry in 1941 and chemical engineering in 1942, both from Cornell University.

During World War II, he attained the rank of captain and was a troop transport commander on ships to France and Italy.

Mr. Herrmann began his career in 1946 in Montclair, N.J., working for DuPont de Nemours & Co. He came to Baltimore in 1948, when he was hired by Davison Chemical Co. as technical director of a silica gel project.

In 1958, Mr. Herrmann went to work for W.R. Grace Co., directing production of silicon used in rectifiers and transistors.

After Texas Instruments subsequently produced a form of the chemical that was 10 times purer than their competitors' products at half the cost, Mr. Herrmann made a career move. He joined Thiokol Chemical Corp., where he spearheaded sales of solid fuel rocket boosters to NASA.

"During trips to Cape Canaveral to view launches, he met astronauts Gus Grissom and John Glenn as well as Vice President Lyndon Johnson," said a son, R. Leith Herrmann of Roland Park, who is Lower School head at Gilman School.

From 1974 until retiring in 1993, Mr. Herrmann worked for Teledyne National and National Ecology establishing recycling plants in Palm Beach, Fla., and other U.S. cities.

Mr. Herrmann volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and the Brown Memorial Church Tutoring Program.

He enjoyed woodworking and was an accomplished watercolorist. He also liked to ski and was a world traveler.

His wife of 31 years, the former Virginia Galleher, died in 1977.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. June 18 at Broadmead, 13801 York Road, Cockeysville.

Also surviving are another son, D. Wesley Herrmann of White Hall, and four grandchildren.

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